Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 21:7-11
AC 8992. Verses 7-11. And when a man shall sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out according to the going out of the menservants. If she be evil in the eyes of her master, so that he will not betroth her, then he shall let her be redeemed: to sell her to a strange people he shall have no power in his acting treacherously against her. And if he shall betroth her to his son, he shall do to her according to the judgment of daughters. If he shall take him another; her food, her covering, and her conjugial due, he shall not diminish. And if he shall not do these three to her, then she shall go out free with no silver. "And when a man shall sell his daughter to be a maidservant," signifies the affection of truth from natural delight; "she shall not go out according to the going out of the menservants," signifies a state not like truth without affection; "if she be evil in the eyes of her master," signifies if the affection of truth from natural delight does not agree with spiritual truth; "so that he will not betroth her," signifies so that it cannot be conjoined; "then he shall let her be redeemed," signifies alienation from these truths; "to sell her to a strange people he shall have no power," signifies not to those who are not of the faith of the church; "in his acting treacherously against her," signifies this being contrary to the laws of Divine order; "and if he shall betroth her to his son," signifies if it agrees with any derived truth so that it can be conjoined therewith; "he shall do to her according to the judgment of daughters," signifies that it shall be as is the genuine affection of truth; "if he shall take him another," signifies conjunction with the affection of truth from another stock; "her food, her clothing, and her conjugial due he shall not diminish," signifies no deprivation of the interior life which is "food," nor of the exterior life which is "clothing," thus no deprivation of conjunction which is the "conjugial due;" "and if he shall not do these three to her," signifies the deprivation of these; "she shall go out free with no silver," signifies alienation therefrom without truth conjoined with it.
AC 8993. And when a man shall sell his daughter to be a maid-servant. That this signifies the affection of truth from natural delight, is evident from the signification of "a man‘s daughter," as being the affection of truth, for by "a daughter" is signified affection (n. 2362, 3963), and by "man," truth (n. 3134), as also by "an Israelite," who is here meant by "a man" (n. 5414, 5879, 5951, 7957, 8234); and from the signification of "a maidservant," as being external or natural affection (n. 2567, 3835, 3849) consequently by "a man’s daughter being sold for a maidservant" is signified the affection of truth from the delight of natural affection.
 By natural delight is meant the delight that flows forth from the love of self and the love of the world. They who are in the affection of truth from this, are they who learn the doctrinal things of the church, which are called the truths of faith, either for the sake of gain, or for the sake of honors, and not for the sake of life. Such affections of truth, which do not flow forth from spiritual good, but from natural delight, are represented by the daughter of an Israelitish man sold to be a handmaid or maidservant; for everything which has its origin from the love of self, or from love of the world, is not free; but servile. What is meant by "free," and what by "servile," (n. 892, 905, 1947, 2870-2893, 6205). How the case is with the affections of truth that originate from these loves, is described in the internal sense in what now follows.
 Bear in mind that the genuine affection of truth is willing and longs to know the veriest truths of faith for the sake of good use as the end, and for the sake of life; but the affection of truth that is not genuine desires and longs for truths for the sake of self, thus for seeking honors, and for hunting gains. They who are in the affection of truth from this origin do not care whether the truths they know are genuine, provided they are such as they can pass off as truths; and therefore they stick in the mere confirmation of the doctrinal things of the church in which they were born, whether these be true or not true. They are also in darkness in respect to truths themselves, for worldly ends which are gains, and bodily ends which are honors, completely blindfold them.
 But they who are in the genuine affection of truth, that is, who long to know truths for the sake of good use, and for the sake of life, also abide in the doctrinal things of the church until they arrive at the age when they begin to think for themselves; then they search the Scriptures and supplicate the Lord for enlightenment, and when they are enlightened they rejoice from the heart. For they know that if they had been born where there is another doctrine of the church, nay, the greatest heresy, without searching the Scriptures from the genuine affection of truth, they would have remained in that doctrine; as for example, if they had been born Jews, or if they had been born Socinians. From this it is plain who and of what quality they are who are in the genuine affection of truth, and who and of what quality they are who are in an affection of truth that is not genuine. They who are in the genuine affection of truth are in the representative sense the daughters of Israelitish men; but they who are in an affection of truth that is not genuine are in the representative sense maidservants from the daughters of Israel.
AC 8994. She shall not go out according to the going out of the menservants. That this signifies a state not like truth without affection, is evident from the signification of "going out," namely, from service, as being the state after combat, or labor (n. 8980, 8984); and from the signification of "menservants," as being those who are in truths and not in the corresponding good (n. 8974), thus who are in truth without affection. From this it is plain that by "she shall not go out according to the going out of the menservants" is signified a state not like truth without affection.
 How this is shall be briefly told. There are some who are in truth and not in the affection of it; and there are some who are in this affection. The former were represented by the menservants from the sons of Israel; but the latter by the maidservants also from the sons of Israel. By the maidservants however were not represented those who are in the genuine affection of truth; but those who are in an affection not genuine (n. 8993).
 The difference between those who are in truth without affection, who were represented by the menservants, and those who are in the affection of truth, who were represented by the maidservants, is such as there is between knowing truth, and willing truth. To know truth belongs solely to the intellectual part, but to will truth to the will part; and thus the difference is such as is that between knowledge and affection. They who are in the knowledge of truth and good, and who in the representative sense are "menservants," or "men," are not affected with truth and good, but only with the knowledge thereof; consequently they are delighted with truths for the sake of knowledge. But they who are in the affection of truth and of good, and who in the representative sense are "maidservants," or "women," are not affected with knowledge, but with the truths and goods themselves when they hear them, and perceive them in others. Such affection is common with good women, but the affection of the knowledge of truth is common with men.
 From this it is that they who are in spiritual perception love women who are affected with truths, but do not love women who are in knowledges; for it is according to Divine order that men should be in knowledges, but women solely in affections; and thus that women should not love themselves from knowledges, but should love men; whence comes the conjugial. From this also it is that it was said by the ancients that women should be silent in the church. This being the case, knowledges are represented by men, but affections by women; here the affections of truth which spring from the delights of natural loves, by the maidservants; and as these are of a totally different nature from those who are affected with knowledges, therefore the case with maidservants is quite different from what it is with menservants. This then is what is signified by the statute that the maidservant shall not go out according to the going out of the menservants. But be it known that the case is so with those who are of the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom; but the other way about with those who are of His celestial kingdom. In the latter kingdom husbands are in affection, but wives in the knowledges of good and truth. From this comes the conjugial with these.
AC 8995. If she be evil in the eyes of her master. That this signifies if the affection of truth from natural delight does not agree with spiritual truth, is evident from the signification of "a maidservant," of whom it is said that she is "evil," as being affection from natural delight (n. 8993, 8994); from the signification of "evil," when said of this affection relatively to spiritual truth, as being not to agree therewith; from the signification of "in the eyes," as being in the perception (n. 2829, 3529, 4083, 4339); and from the signification of "master," as being spiritual truth (n. 8981).
 How the case herein is must be told. That "a maidservant" denotes the affection of truth from the delights of the love of self or of the love of the world was said above (n. 8993, 8994); and that this affection can be conjoined with spiritual truth can be seen from the fact that the affection of spiritual truth is an internal affection, or is in the interior man; whereas the affection of truth from natural delight is in the external man. The internal affection which is of the spiritual man is constantly conjoined with the external affection which is of the natural man, but still in such a way that the internal affection of truth is the ruling affection, and the external affection is subservient; for it is according to Divine order that the spiritual man should rule over the natural (n. 8961, 8967). Moreover when the spiritual man rules, the man looks upward, which is represented by having the head in heaven; but when the natural man rules, the man looks downward, which is represented by having the head in hell.
 To throw more light on this subject something further shall be said. Most men by the truths which they learn, and the goods which they do, do indeed think of a consequent advantage, or of honor in their country; but if these things are regarded as the end, the natural man rules and the spiritual serves; if however they are not regarded as the end, but only as means to the end, the spiritual man rules and the natural man serves, according to what has been already said (n. 7819, 7820). For when gain or honor is regarded as a means to an end, and not as the end, the gain or honor is not regarded, but the end, which is use. As for example he who desires and procures for himself riches for the sake of use, which he loves above all things, is not in this case delighted with riches for the sake of riches, but for the sake of uses. Moreover the very uses make the spiritual life with men, and riches merely serve as means (n. 6933-6938). From this it can be seen what must be the quality of the natural man in order that it may be conjoined with the spiritual, namely, that it must regard gains and honors, thus riches and dignities, at means, and not as the end; for that which is regarded by a man as the end makes his veriest life, because he loves it above all things, for that which is loved is regarded as the end,
 He who does not know that the end, or what is the same, the love, makes the spiritual life of a man, consequently that a man is where his love is, in heaven if the love is heavenly, in hell if the love is infernal, cannot comprehend how the case is in regard to this. He may suppose that the delight of natural loves, which are the love of self and the love of the world, cannot agree with spiritual truth and good; for he does not know that in the course of regeneration a man must be wholly inverted, and that when he has been inverted he has his head in heaven, but that before he has been inverted he has his head in hell. He has his head in hell when he regards the delights of the love of self or of the love of the world as the end; but he has his head in heaven when these delights are as means to the end. For the end, which is the love, is the only thing with man that is alive; the means to the end are of themselves not alive, but they receive life from the end. Consequently the means from the ultimate end are called mediate ends; and these, in so far as they regard the ultimate end which is the principal end, are so far alive. From this it is that when a man has been regenerated, consequently when he has as the end to love the neighbor and to love the Lord, he then has as means the loving of himself and the world. When man is of this character, then when he looks to the Lord he accounts himself as nothing, and also the world; and if he regards himself as anything, it is that he may be able to serve the Lord. But previously the contrary had been the case; for when he looked to himself, he had accounted the Lord as nothing, or if as anything, it was that thereby he might have gain and honor.
 From all this it can be seen what is the nature of the secret that lies hidden in these statutes concerning the maidservants from the daughters of Israel, namely, that though they were servants, still, if they were good, they were betrothed to the master by whom they were bought, or to his son; but if evil, they were not betrothed, but were either redeemed, or sold; according to what is contained in these verses. Moreover to betroth maidservants, or to have them for concubines, was permitted in the representative church, especially in the Jewish and Israelitish church, for the reason that a wife represented the affection of spiritual truth, but a maidservant the affection of natural truth; thus the former represented the internal of the church with man, but the latter the external. This was represented by Hagar, who was betrothed to Abraham; and also by the two handmaids who were betrothed to Jacob. From all this it is now evident what is meant in the internal representative sense by a maidservant not being able to be betrothed if she was evil; namely, if the affection from natural delight, which is "a maidservant", does not agree with the spiritual, which chiefly happens owing to the fact that it wishes to rule, and that it is of such a disposition and heart that it cannot be bent to love the Lord. Moreover the agreement or disagreement with the spiritual of the affection from natural delight is according to the quality of each; but to divide these into their categories would be too tedious. That "a maidservant" also denotes an affirmative means that serves for the conjunction of the external and the internal man, (n. 3913, 3917, 3931).
AC 8996. So that he will not betroth her. That this signifies that it cannot be conjoined, is evident from the signification of "to be betrothed," as being to be conjoined; for they who are betrothed are conjoined. In the internal sense by "to be betrothed" is properly signified the agreement of dispositions or of minds which precedes the conjunction of marriage; and as in the spiritual world agreement conjoins, and disagreement disjoins, therefore by "to be betrothed" is here signified to be conjoined.
AC 8997. Then he shall let her be redeemed. That this signifies alienation from these truths, is evident from the signification of "being redeemed" by him who sold her, or by another, thus of being sold by the master, as being alienation from that spiritual truth. That "to be sold" denotes alienation, (n. 4098, 4752, 4758, 5886); also that "master" denotes spiritual truth, (n. 8981, 8995).
AC 8998. To sell her to a strange people he shall have no power. That this signifies not to those who are not of the faith of the church, is evident from the signification of "a strange people," as being those who are outside of the church, thus who are not of the faith of the church (n. 2049, 2115, 7996); and from the signification of "selling," as being to alienate (n. 8997). In regard to this, the case is that those who have been born within the church, and from infancy have been imbued with the principles of the truth of the church, ought not to contract marriages with those who are outside of the church, and have thus been imbued with such things as are not of the church. The reason is that there is no conjunction between them in the spiritual world, for everyone in that world is in consociation according to his good and the truth thence derived; and as there is no conjunction between such in the spiritual world, neither ought there to be any conjunction on earth. For regarded in themselves marriages are conjunctions of dispositions and of minds, the spiritual life of which is from the truths and goods of faith and of charity. On this account moreover marriages on earth between those who are of a different religion are accounted in heaven as heinous, and still more so marriages between those who are of the church and those who are outside of the church. This also was the reason why the Jewish and Israelitish nation was forbidden to contract matrimonies with the Gentiles (Deut. 7:3, 4), and why it was absolutely heinous to commit whoredom with them (Num. 25:1-9).
 This appears still more evidently from the origin of conjugial love, which is from the marriage of good and truth (n. 2727-2759). When conjugial love descends from this source, it is heaven itself in man. This is destroyed when two consorts are of unlike heart from unlike faith. From this then it is that a maidservant from the daughters of Israel, that is, from those who are of the church, was not to be sold to a strange people, that is, to those who are outside of the church; for these would then betroth her, that is, would be conjoined with her, and would thus profane the things which are of the church; and therefore it is said that this is "to act treacherously."
AC 8999. In his acting treacherously against her. That this signifies that this is contrary to the laws of Divine order, is evident from the signification of "acting treacherously," as being contrary to truth Divine, or what is the same, contrary to the laws of Divine order; that this is signified by "acting treacherously" is plain from what was adduced just above (n. 8998). In heaven the laws of Divine order are truths, for Divine order is from the Divine truth which proceeds from the Lord (n. 8700, 8988). "To act treacherously" is a customary form of speaking in the Word, signifying in the internal sense to act contrary to the truth and good in heaven, or what is the same, contrary to Divine order; as in (Isaiah 21:2; 33:1; 48:8; Jer. 3:20; 5:11; 12:1, 6 Hosea 5:7; 6:7; Mal. 2:10, 11, 14, 15; Ps. 78:57; 119:158).
AC 9000. And if he shall betroth her to his son. That this signifies if it agrees with any derived truth so that it can be conjoined therewith, is evident from the signification of "a son," as being truth (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3373, 3704, 4257), here derived truth, because by the master who is the father is signified the principal truth from which the rest are derived (n. 8981); add from the signification of "betrothing," as being to be conjoined (n. 8996).
AC 9001. He shall do to her according to the judgement of daughters. That this signifies that it shall be as is the genuine affection of truth, is evident from the signification of "according to the judgment," as being with the same right; for by the "judgment" is signified external truth or right such as is in the civil state in which is the representative church (n. 8972); and from the signification of "daughter," as being the affection of truth (n. 2362, 3024, 3963), here the genuine affection of truth, because by "the maidservant" is signified the affection of truth from natural delight (n. 8993), thus not genuine until she has been betrothed either to her master, or to his son. But when she has been betrothed, that is, when this affection has been conjoined with the spiritual truth which is signified by "master," and by "son," then it becomes as it were genuine, for then the natural has been subordinated to spiritual truth, and when it has been subordinated it is no longer in its own right, but in that of the spiritual truth under which it has been subordinated; consequently the natural becomes as the spiritual, because it acts as a one with it. And then also the life of spiritual truth is transferred into the natural, and vivifies it. But betrothal, or conjunction, with a maidservant, differs from conjunction with a daughter in the fact that the latter conjunction is effected in the interior man, but the former in the external man.
AC 9002. If he shall take him another. That this signifies conjunction with the affection of truth from another stock, is evident from the signification of "taking" or "betrothing" another, as being to be conjoined (n. 8996); for in the spiritual sense, matrimony, which is here meant by "betrothing," denotes the conjunction of the life of the one with that of the other. According to Divine order there is a conjunction of the life from the truths of faith with the life from the good of charity. From this comes all spiritual conjunction, from which as from its origin comes forth natural conjunction. By "taking another" is signified conjunction with the affection of truth from another stock, for the "maidservant" before spoken of denotes the affection of truth from natural delight (n. 8993); consequently "another" denotes the affection of truth from another stock.
 What is meant by "affection from another stock" may be known from the fact that all affection which is of love is of the widest extension, so wide indeed as to surpass all human understanding. The human understanding does not even go so far as to know the genera of the varieties of this affection, still less the species of these genera, and less still the particulars, and singulars of the particulars. For whatsoever is in man, especially that which is of affection or love, is of infinite variety, as can plainly be seen from the fact that the affection of good and truth, which is of love to the Lord and of love toward the neighbor, constitutes the universal heaven, and that nevertheless all who are in the heavens, where there are myriads, differ from one another as to good, and will differ even if they should be multiplied to countless myriads of myriads. For there cannot be in the universe one thing that is exactly like another, and that subsists in a distinct way; it must be various, that is, different from all others, in order that it may be anything by itself (n. 684, 690, 3241, 3744, 3745, 3986, 4005, 4149, 5598, 7236, 7833, 7836, 8003). From all this it can in some measure be known what is meant by "an affection from another stock," namely, an affection which differs from the other, but which can nevertheless be conjoined with the same spiritual truth. Such affections as are represented by maidservants betrothed to other man, are of one genus; but there is a difference among them as to species, which is called a "specific" difference. These things might be illustrated by various examples; but the general idea derived from what has been already said will suffice.
 In order that there might be represented the conjunctions and subordinations of such affections under one spiritual truth, it was permitted the Israelitish and Jewish nation to have a number of concubines - as to Abraham (Gen. 25:6), also to David, Solomon, and others. For whatever was permitted that nation was for the sake of the representation; namely, that by things external they might represent the internal things of the church (n. 3246). But when the internal things of the church had been opened by the Lord, the representations of internal things by external ceased, because it was then internal things, which are those of faith and love, with which the man of the church was to be imbued, and by means of which he was to worship the Lord; and therefore it was then no longer permissible to have more wives than one, nor to have concubines for wives (n. 865, 2727-2759, 3246, 4837).
AC 9003. Her food, her raiment, and her conjugial due, he shall not diminish. That this signifies no deprivation of the interior life which is "food," nor of the exterior life which is "clothing," thus no deprivation of conjunction which is the "conjugial due," is evident from the signification of "food," as being the sustenance of the interior life, for in the spiritual sense "food," or meat and drink, denote the knowledges of good and truth, "meat," the knowledges of good (n. 5147), and "drink," the knowledges of truth (n. 3168, 3772); and therefore "food" denotes the things which nourish the spiritual life of man (n. 5293, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562); from the signification of "covering," or "clothing," as being the sustenance of the exterior life, for in the spiritual sense "covering," or "clothing," denotes lower memory-knowledges, because these are what sustain the external life of man (n. 5248, 6918); from the signification of the "conjugial due," as being conjunction; and from the signification of "not to diminish," as being not to deprive of.
 The case herein is that natural affection conjoined with spiritual truth, which is signified by "a maidservant betrothed to a son," requires continual sustenance of life from the spiritual truth with which it has been conjoined; for affection without sustenance therefrom perishes. It is with the affection of man as it is with man himself unless it is sustained with food it dies. Moreover in respect to his interiors man is nothing but affection; a good man the affection of good and the truth thence derived; but an evil man the affection of evil and the falsity thence derived. This is especially evident from a man when he becomes a spirit, for the sphere of life which then flows forth from him is a sphere either of the affection of good, or of the affection of evil. His nourishment or sustenance then is not from natural food and drink, but from spiritual food and drink, which are falsity from evil to an evil spirit, and truth from good to a good spirit. The nourishments of human minds during their life in the body in the world, are no other, and from this it is that all things which relate to food, such as bread, flesh, wine, water, and many other things, in the spiritual sense in the Word signify such things as belong to spiritual nourishment.
 From this it is also plain what is meant by these words of the Lord:--
Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that goeth forth out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).
Ye shall eat and drink upon My table in My kingdom (Luke 22:30).
I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this product of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:29);
saying these words after He had instituted the Holy Supper, in which "the bread and the wine" denote those things which are of love and faith; in like manner also "the flesh and the blood." From this it may be clearly known what is meant by "the flesh and blood" of the Lord in (John 6:49-58); and also by these words:--
My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed (John 6:55).
That "flesh" in the Word denotes the good of love, (n. 3813, 7850): also that "blood" denotes the good of faith, (n. 4735, 6978, 7317, 7326, 7846, 7850, 7877); in like manner " bread and wine," (n. 2165, 2177, 3164, 3478, 3735, 3813, 4211, 4217, 4735, 4976, 5915, 6118, 6377).
AC 9004. If he shall not do these three to her. That this signifies the deprivation of these things, is evident without explication.
AC 9005. Then she shall go out free with no silver. That this signifies alienation therefrom without truth conjoined with it, is evident from the signification of "going out," here from service and from coupling, as being abandonment by her master-husband (dominus vir), thus alienation; and from the signification of "free with no silver," as being without truth conjoined therewith. That "silver‘ denotes truth, (n. 1551, 2954, 5658, 6112, 6914, 6917, 8932). How the case herein is, is evident from what was shown just above (n. 9003), namely, that natural affection conjoined with spiritual truth, which is signified by "a maidservant betrothed to a son," cannot possibly subsist without sustenance from spiritual truth; and therefore if it is not sustained, the conjunction is dissolved, consequently there is alienation. The reason why this takes place without this truth being conjoined with it, is that it is then associated with another truth, which cannot be effected with the life derived from truth from another source. Such is the signification of the above words, because such is the case with consociations in the spiritual world. EXODUS 21:7-11 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|